graham – Michmutters

Sir Graham Henry: This is not the Kiwi way – it’s time to back the All Blacks

The All Blacks facing off against South Africa at Mbombela Stadium last week. Photo /


Legendary All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry issues a call to arms to reunite sports fans and back the All Blacks to fight back against South Africa.

Not so long ago, there was a lot of talk about the “team of five million” – Kiwis looking out for each other in the toughest depths of the Covid-19 pandemic. We pulled together in those challenging days and supported one another, and we were stronger for doing so. When Kiwis stand together, we achieve amazing things.

Tomorrow morning, on the other side of the world, 23 young Kiwis face one of the fiercest challenges of their lives. They’re a long way from home, away from their families, separated from the team of five million – I know from personal experience how isolated and adrift these young men will feel.

Some of the bitter criticism that has been thrown at the All Blacks lately will make them feel even further from home.

The players, the captain Sam Cane and their coach Ian Foster have been subjected to unfair, unkind vitriol. These guys are giving their all. The distasteful, mean-spirited tone of the criticism coming from our own people and aimed at our team has made me wonder: Whatever happened to the team of five million?

Sir GrahamHenry.  Photo/Michael Craig
Sir GrahamHenry. Photo/Michael Craig

Whining and moaning? That’s not the Kiwi way – it’s embarrassing; and it’s not how we want the rest of the world to see us.

The young men who will represent us tomorrow need to know that we stand with them. From their point of view, it can feel like there’s no support – I know that’s not true, and I believe deep down you know it, too.

These All Blacks face a Bok blitzkrieg like none that has come before: This is the best Springbok team I have ever seen – and I was there at Lancaster Park in 1956, so I’ve seen a few!

Right now, the All Blacks are rebuilding, while the Boks are at their best. The brilliant Siya Kolisi leads a very mature side – they are worthy world champions who play with focused intensity and the ability to reset the game to suit their strengths and negate those of their opponents.

Nevertheless, the All Blacks can win. But to do so, they need to know we stand with them.

True sports fans stand with their side in fair weather and foul. For more than a century, All Blacks fans have been lucky to experience more sunshine than gloom. But dark days are here right now. And in challenging times you must stand together if you’re going to stand tall.

So, come on New Zealand – get behind the 23 men in black! We’re a team of five million, not 4,999,977.

I’ve been in touch with the team and told them they have my full support – I’m sure all true All Blacks supporters will do the same thing in their own way.